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Saturday, December 09 2023

Bengaluru: BRS makes a beginning in AP but has major challenges ahead

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Bengaluru:  Taking its first step for expansion outside Telangana, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) formed its unit in Andhra Pradesh and was able to make a good beginning by attracting a couple of big names.

Andhra Pradesh was deliberate and also a natural choice for BRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandarsekhar Rao to kickstart the party’s expansion as the party is likely to get good traction due to various factors and thus create some visibility before he looks to other states for expansion.

Political observers say while KCR succeeded in creating a buzz in the neighbouring state, it would be too early to say what impact BRS would have on the state’s politics which is currently dominated by ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

BRS made a beginning in the other Telugu state with former minister Ravela Kishore Babu, former IAS officer Thota Chandrasekhar and former IRS officer Chintala Partha Sarathi along with some others from Andhra Pradesh joining the party. KCR appointed Thota Chandrasekhar as the state unit president.

Hailing from Kapu community, which has a strong presence in Andhra Pradesh, Chandrsekhar was with YSRCP but after losing the Eluru Lok Sabha poll in 2019, joined the Jana Sena.

BRS chief also announced Kishore Babu who worked with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshi Ram will play a key role at the national level in designing party policies and programmes for the empowerment of Dalits.

Kishore Babu, who was elected to theAndhra Pradesh Assembly from Prathipadu in 2014, had served as the SC and ST welfare minister in the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government headed by

Chandrababu Naidu, but quit the party in 2019 and joined JSP and later the BJP.

An All India Service officer from the 1987 batch, Kishore Babu had worked closely with Kanshi Ram from 1996 to 2000.

While the BRS, considering its rich sources, may not find it difficult to attract few leaders and undertake some activity on the ground, its future Andhra Pradesh politics will depend on what impact it would have in Karnataka where it is likely to join hands with the Janata Dal (Secular) and also the outcome of Assembly elections in Telangana scheduled towards the end of 2023.

“Politics in Andhra Pradesh is highly polarized between two groups. The group led by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has a strong focus on welfare because of which even TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu is forced to talk of welfare. The entire model BRS is talking about is ‘Ab ki baar kisan sarkar’ which boils down to welfare. There is no novelty in what BRS is saying currently,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Though Ravela Kishore Babu joining BRS raised some eyebrows, the analyst doesn’t think it means anything. “We have to wait and see what kind of impact the campaign will have going forward or what narrative KCR builds for BRS across regions,” he added.

The first test for BRS, according to analysts, is going to happen in Karnataka. As it is almost clear that JD (S) leader Kumaraswamy is in line with the thought of BRS, it will be interesting to see what BRS will do in Karnataka. “Whatever may be the outcome in Karnataka, how much credit Kumaraswamy gives to KCR will be important… There are many factors we have to wait and see before we move to Andhra Pradesh. In the name of BRS what the party achieves in Telangana and other factors will be tested in Andhra Pradesh situation,” believes the analyst .

“BRS is a resource-rich party. Any political party with resources will be able to create momentum on ground. People will show interest in joining or moving around with that flag. It has resources and it will have traction. So there will be some action on action on the ground,” feels another observer.

Many observers are unanimous in their view that at this stage it is difficult to predict if BRS wins any seat in Andhra Pradesh.

BRS will have some advantages in Andhra Pradesh like Telugu language, common history and a good understanding of the state politics.

“But on the contrary, a large section of people might be upset with KCR as even after so many years they don’t have a capital and there is no direction in which they are heading in future. Whether they will accept him is a question which only time can answer,” Raghavendra Reddy said.

In certain pockets of Karnataka and Maharashtra, BRS may try to get a foothold by projecting Telangana model of development and welfare. It may not be easy in Andhra Pradesh where the two major players are vying with each other on the welfare plank.

While announcing the launch of the BRS unit in Andhra Pradesh, KCR claimed that BRS is for entire India.

He clarified that the BRS was not formed for a community or a region or a state, but with the aim of achieving a bright future for India, KCR said the party would strive to bring a qualitative change for people-centric governance at the national level.

“I am appealing to people of Andhra Pradesh to join us in this endeavour to do some great work for this country. Just like our country’s freedom fighters are respected, in future BRS leaders will get such respect because of the kind of work they will do,” KCR said.

Some sections in Andhra Pradesh may still see KCR as the one responsible for bifurcation of the state. As the TRS president leading the movement for statehood to Telangana, KCR had the image of a rabble-rouser. He used to mince no words in attacking rulers from Andhra for decades of discrimination towards Telangana.

During the Telangana movement, KCR had also come up with slogans like ‘Telangana wale jago, Andhra wale bhago’, calling for driving away people from Andhra region from Telangana.

However, after forming the first government in Telangana in 2014, KCR had softened his stand towards the people of Andhra Pradesh settled in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana.

Now BRS leaders say the statements made during the movement was the need of that time to unite people for the cause of Telangana and claim that they have no animosity towards the people of any region.

However, it remains to be seen what KCR does to take people of Andhra Pradesh into confidence. It will also be equally interesting to see how he proposes to solve the outstanding post-bifurcation issues between the two Telugu states and to address the more contentious issues of sharing of waters of Godavari and Krishna rivers.

By Mohammed Shafeeq

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